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Madras – A Great Place to Make a Tough Decision

map_of_madras_orTo ride or not to ride – that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the tush to suffer the saddle and ride to Smith Rock

Or to chill in Madras. To swim – to sleep – and ride no more.

Until Friday comes and the circus leaves town.

If all you know about Madras is that it’s that town you zip through on the way to Bend, you’re in for a really big treat. As is the case with many special places, there’s a lot more to it than can be seen from the highway. After an 83-mile ride on Wednesday, Madras is going to be a sight for sore legs.

This is where we spend the layover day, which means Thursday morning you’ll be faced with a tough decision. Will you do the optional – yet spectacular – Smith Rock Loop, or will you get to know Madras better and recover before Friday’s 90-mile ride back to Tygh Valley? I know what I’d do, but you’re not me and I’m not you.

Should you opt to hang around town, you’ve got many options. The Madras Aquatic Center is sure to be a crowd-pleaser with its lap pool, rope swing, diving board and “lazy river” feature. It also boasts a patio that has a view of seven (magnificent) Cascade peaks – the perfect place to watch the sun set.

Those looking for cultural enrichment can check out the Jefferson County Historical Museum on the upper floor of the Old County Courthouse, which tells the story of Jefferson County from Native American times to the homestead and railroad boom era through dam construction and beyond. There are also several art galleries, and there will even be a wine-and-cheese tasting in the park.

There are several restaurant options in Madras, including four Mexican joints, a Peruvian eatery (Hola!), a Salvadorian bistro (La Salvadorena) and an Italian grill (Gino’s). There’s also the Crossroads Pub and Grill and the Rialto Tavern for those looking to enjoy beer – or even a Madras.

Like many of the places we’re visiting this year, Madras is focusing more on bike tourism. With 300 days of sunshine annually, it’s an incredible place to ride (sometimes even in January or February). There are several short bike routes available for those who want to keep their legs fresh. There’s also the 30-mile Scenic Bikeway loop, which features huge views of the Cascades and Lake Billy Chinook.

In addition, there’s a lot of excellent walking and hiking, including the Willow Canyon Trail that overlooks Lake Simtustus, or the 1.5-mile trek up M Hill, which offers a fantastic view of town. Look for fliers around town about the many biking and hiking options.


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